#9 Connecticut Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Connecticut Huskies

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #9
Conference Rank: #2 American Athletic

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A lot has changed for the Connecticut Huskies. The historic Big East conference is no more. The Huskies are now part of the new (and improved?) American Athletic Conference, along with Louisville, Rutgers and a ton of new faces. But that is not where the changes stop for UConn. Head Coach Kevin Ollie now enters his first season where his team is eligible for the postseason. In Ollie's actual first season, the team was banned from the playoffs for not meeting academic standards. Now, with the weight of Jim Calhoun's memory hopefully not a concern, Ollie has a chance to prove what he can do from the bench. He will do so though with a roster not quite on par inside with what fans have come to expect.

2012-13 Record: 20-10, 10-8
2012-13 Postseason: None
Coach: Kevin Ollie
Coach Record: 20-10 at Connecticut, 20-10 overall

Who’s Out:
No one of substance from last year's squad left. Part-time contributors RJ Evans and Enosch Wolf have departed but they combined for just six starts a season ago. The bad news is this team had a lot of holes last year. They were dreadfully undermanned inside. Unlike UConn squads everyone is familiar with, who lead the country in blocks, last year's, and probably this year's team as well, will struggle to dominate the paint. The team's leading shot blocker a year ago was 195 pound forward DeAndre Daniels. Daniels also led in rebounds, followed by starting point guard Shabazz Napier. If this team is going to live up to expectations, it will all be because of guard play.

Who’s In:
Besides the return of AAC Player of the Year candidate Shabazz Napier, the Huskies also bring back the rest of their three guard lineup: Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun. The three guards, one freshman, one sophomore, one junior, all started at least 27 games and were the top three finishers on the team in minutes, free throws, threes, assists and steals. Building on a strength, Connecticut also brought in NC State transfer Rodney Purvis (although he will have to sit out this season). Finishing out the returning starting lineup will be the aforementioned DeAndre Daniels and "center" Tyler Olander. While Daniels has tremendous upside, that fifth spot in the starting lineup will be something to keep an eye on as Olander has almost zero upside and cannot contain actual opposing centers.

Who to Watch:
The man to keep an eye on, other than the maturation and improvements of Daniels, is freshman center Amida Brimah. A legitimate seven footer, Brimah has a common background as other players from Ghana and surrounding nations. He's only been playing basketball for four years or so; he has tremendous athleticism and upside; he averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks per game his senior year of high school. Very thin and very raw, Brimah is the only man on this roster with the potential to be one of "those" UConn centers we have all become familiar with, a la Thabeet, Drummond, Okafor, etc. It will be interesting to see how he progresses.

Final Projection:
This team is very guard-reliant; perhaps too much so. We know how good Napier is and how good his fellow guards can be. Daniels is still a bit of a mystery but in a good way. People are not quite sure just how good he can be. However, there is little size and little depth to this team. If the guards have an off shooting night, the team will lose, no question. And if they face a team with a couple heavy-hitters inside, they will also lose. Tyler Olander can handle himself on the defensive end but expecting him to be a stopper and rim protector is faulty. This team will only go as far as their guards take them.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Shabazz Napier, Senior, Guard, 17.1 points per game
Ryan Boatright, Junior, Guard, 15.4 points per game
Omar Calhoun, Sophomore, Guard, 11.1 points per game
DeAndre Daniels, Junior, Forward, 12.1 points per game
Tyler Olander, Senior, Forward, 4.3 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.9 (110th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.4 (138, 12)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.2 (118, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.4 (60, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.4 (140, 4)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.0 (161, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.3 (34, 1)
Rebound Margin: -3.5 (290, 13)
Assists Per Game: 13.7 (114, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (89, 5)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#38 DeAndre Daniels
#52 Shabazz Napier
#76 Ryan Boatright

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#95 Kentan Facey


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